Friday, November 30, 2007

speed addict

Speed study puts Cootes limit under microscope

City will see if reduction near Mac had any effect

Craig Campbell
Published on Nov 30, 2007

Local drivers should know next week if anyone's following the new speed limit on Cootes Drive.

City of Hamilton traffic staff is currently reviewing the speed reduction made during the summer on the busy thoroughfare near Main Street West.

Dundas councillor Russ Powers said he wanted some analysis of the change, and the traffic department needed about six months to have appropriate data for an informed decision.

Tubes were stretched across all lanes of Cootes Drive earlier this week, about six months since the reduction.

City traffic technologist Chris van Berkel said the equipment keeps track of both traffic volume and speed. It was to record information for three days.

"We're interested in speed, we know the volumes," Mr. van Berkel said. "We want to see if the speed reduction has had an effect."

Mr. Powers said he was not very happy with the speed reduction from 60 km-h to 40 km-h for a section of Cootes Drive around a controlled pedestrian crosswalk when it was made in the summer.

He told the October meeting of his Dundas Community Council everyone he spoke to was fine with a speed drop from 80 km-h to 60 km-h but not the additional drop to 40 at the crosswalk.

Mr. Powers said he's suggested an increase in the current 40 km-h zone back to 60 km-h.

He and west Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie have already met once with traffic staff, and expect to review results of this week's speed study.

The speed reduction was part of an ongoing but troublesome effort to improve traffic and pedestrian safety on Cootes Drive.

Just a few months after new traffic lights were placed on the street to provide control for a McMaster University pedestrian crossing, a student from the school was struck and killed.

A Hamilton police Speedwatch at the crosswalk has found pedestrians crossing without activating the lights. Other observers have argued driver speeding is a problem.

Results from this week's speed study should be available next week. Mr. Powers expects local stakeholders, including McMaster, to discuss possible options to improve the traffic situation with recommendations potentially going to the public works committee of council before the end of the year.

The organization Transportation for Livable Communities has been calling for more traffic calming methods to be used in conjunction with the controlled crosswalk and speed reduction, including a lane reduction at the crosswalk.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Main Concern

Councilor Brian McHattie
City of Hamilton
November 29, 2007
Dear Brian,

I am writing on behalf of "Transportation for Liveable Communities" (TLC), a working group of McMaster's chapter of OPIRG (Ontario Public Research Interest Group).

TLC members appreciate your work to secure improved pedestrian safety on roads surrounding McMaster University. We think that the reduced speed limit at Cootes Drive next to McMaster has been very successful step to this end.

We request, however, that more actions will be taken as soon as possible to correct gross traffic hazards near McMaster.

First, as one travels on Main St. W eastbound from the 403, the standard 50 km/h speed limit changes to 60 km/h just east of McMaster Hospital and University. We perceive this change as reflecting gross negligence by The City of Hamilton Transportation Department an d urge you to request an immediate reversal to the standard default of 50 km/h with the accompanying timing of the traffic lights in this corridor to ensure that no speeding occurs. The section of Main St. W between McMaster and Osler Dr. has some of the heaviest pedestrian traffic in Ha milton. Furthermore, while the city policy is to allow 60 km/h on arterial roads with no private driveways, there are actually such private driveways in that section. In short, the current 60 km/h speed limit is incompatible with sensible safety considerations and should be reconsidered given the recent dramatic increase in pedestrian traffic in the area.

Second, TLC members are still troubled by the multiple traffic hazards created by the new automobile entrance to McMaster University and hospital. We have discussed this issue with you and members of the traffic department several times, but too little has been done to reduce the danger. The two major problem points are the pedestrian crossings on the north west and south east sides of the intersection.

To resolve the north west problem of cars turning into the pedestrian crosswalk while pedestrians are using the crosswalk, we request that the exit from McMaster have a separate right turn signal that would isolate the car-turning movements from the pedestrian crossing times. A similar traffic light operates successfully in downtown Hamilton to separate between westbound automobile traffic turning from James St N and pedestrians crossing King St.

To resolve both the south east and north west problems, we request that (i) the three exit lanes from McMaster would each be dedicated to a single direction, right, straight and left; (ii) the pedestrian crossing of the southern part of Main St. would be realigned with the street corner, shortened through widening and lengthening eastbound of the centre refuge area, and receive bright white markings.

We consider our above suggestions highly reasonable and well worth the price for correcting the obvious shortcomings in what was supposed to be a modern, welcoming entrance to a forward thinking institute of higher knowledge.

Sincerely yours,

Reuven Dukas


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

no tax transit (riders pay more)

New routes, another fare increase(!) and no taxes to help pay for transit...

CATCH News – November 27, 2007
Fare hikes chosen over higher taxes
The bus fare hikes approved yesterday could have been replaced with a $12 annual tax increase on most households according to city treasurer Joe Rinaldo. Instead regular HSR users will pay $96 a year more to ride the bus next year.
The fare increases will take effect on January 1 if finalized tomorrow evening by council. They include rises of 15 cents on cash fares, 10 cents on tickets, $8 on the monthly adult pass and $7 on the monthly pass used by elementary and secondary school students.
Brian McHattie, one of four councillors who opposed the fare hikes, argued that it made more sense to use taxes to collect the $1.8 million a year that the fare increases are expected to generate for the HSR.
Rinaldo presented tables to the meeting showing the impact on average taxes with and without the fare increase. For a $200,000 home in Hamilton the difference would be $12 a year. The cost to suburban residents would have been about $3 in Ancaster, and $4 in each of Dundas, Stoney Creek and Glanbrook.
Each former municipality pays a unique transit tax rate based on how many miles of HSR service occurs there. Thus an average home in Hamilton this year pays $174 for HSR, while urban residents of Ancaster in the same value home pay $36. The comparable rate in Dundas is $41 and $53 in Stoney Creek.
The new fare hikes come only six months after similar ones that were imposed in July. The adult monthly pass that cost $65 in June will by $79 in January of next year – an increase of 21 percent, while monthly school passes will be up by 26 percent over the prices earlier this year ($63 instead of $50 a month).
HSR fare prices have risen faster than inflation since the mid 1980s. In 1985 riders paid 90 cents a ride. Inflation would push that to $1.58 in 2007. Most of the increases took place before 1998 – the point at which cash fares hit $2.00 a ride.
Despite the fare hikes, the inflation-adjusted amount spent on the HSR is about 20 percent less this year than it was in 1994. The transit budget is mainly funded by fares and city taxes, with some federal and provincial funding starting in 2005.
Councillors also decided yesterday to establish a transit subsidy program that will give up to 809 low income people a 50 percent price reduction on their monthly HSR pass. The one-year pilot program will start in April and is aimed at the 25,000 Hamiltonians defined as “working poor”. Some limited assistance with transit fares is already available to an additional 25,000 residents receiving disability or Ontario Works payments.

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Letter in Transit

A great letter in today's spectator:
Transit is part of our infrastructure

The Hamilton Spectator

(Nov 17, 2007)

Re: Hamilton Street Railway

Hamilton needs to start seeing the entirety of the transit system as infrastructure, as being in the same category as bridges, sewers and roads. If we can do this, we can eliminate the false argument that putting money toward transit is subsidizing transit users while building and maintaining roads is creating infrastructure and jobs.

Efficient and comfortable public transit is an incredibly cost-effective way to fuel investment in our communities. Development blossoms around bus, streetcar and tram routes and in turn increases the cost effectiveness of the whole system, creating more opportunity for expansion. Transit use reduces road use, wear and congestion and is also thus intrinsically linked with the concerns of drivers.

One possibly contentious but more equitable and sustainable way to fund the transit system is to reduce or eliminate the discrepancies of the area rating system currently in place. This system of property taxation is based on the myth that drivers paying tax for transit in areas without transit service is a subsidy, while transit users paying tax for roads without transit is helping build infrastructure for everyone. In both cases, taxpayers are supporting transportation alternatives that they have no ostensible access to and neither should be seen as a "subsidy." It is, simply, the government providing means for its citizens to live and work in a vibrant and diverse city.

This is how society is meant to function; we all put a little of what we have in and receive a little of what we need in return, regardless of whether we stand to gain from all the ways our taxes are spent. People who chose not to, or cannot, own a car are in exactly the same boat as people who choose not to, or cannot, live within walking distance of public transit.

While I am not a regular user of public transit, I encourage the mayor, city council, and city staff, as the new Red Hill Valley Parkway opens, to work with the same energy and enthusiasm to make Hamilton's public transit system as robust, efficient, and noteworthy as its recently augmented road network.

Friday, November 16, 2007

no bus stop

I heard if from the bus driver tonight first, when I asked (after loading my bike to the front mounted racks) and the SPEC confirms it: No bus strike!
Transit agreement reached

There won’t be a bus strike.

Negotiators for the city of Hamilton and Local 107 of the Amalgamated Transit Union reached a tentative agreement shortly before 9 tonight.

City negotiators will recommend the deal to city council and the union executive will recommend it to its 600 members.

The union membership rejected a previous proposal from the city in October and on Wednesday, voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action if no deal was reached.

That led to today’s bargaining session.

A union ratification meeting is likely to be held by mid-week.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CATCH the Good News!

Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) release the good news (that Thom had previewed earlier). It certainly feels rewarding after years of TLC and the City Cycling Committee pushing council for this:
Bike racks on all buses
There are now bicycle racks on all HSR buses. Delays in receiving the racks from the manufacturer slowed down the expected installation speed, and the variety of bus models also presented difficulties, but HSR director Don Hull says all the racks are now in place.
The news generated a round of applause at yesterday’s meeting of the city’s transit steering committee. Waterloo region preceded Hamilton in installing bike racks, but Ottawa and Toronto are yet to put them on all their buses.
[The CATCH article doesn't mention our next door neighbour Burlington also installed the racks well before Hamilton did]

Friday, November 09, 2007

Raising the issues

The great folks over at Raise the Hammer continue to do the grunt work of bringing issues to the attention of Hamiltonians. There is much there of value, but check out this info on the transportation master plan. Good background for TLC's work on one-way street conversions to two-way, and more.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

meet and get active with TLC

Get involved in building a better and more sustainable transportation network at McMaster, and in the city.

TLC volunteers have been pushing for advances in cycling, pedestrian and transit infrastructure since 2000.

Join the movement toward sustainability: if you ever get around in the city without a car, you probably have a good idea of what needs doing. Join others with the same frame of reference, and do your part to make good things happen.

Open to all, you can check out TLC at

Meeting at 6pm, Tuesday, November 13 in McMaster University Student Centre room 213.